When the barbecue cook-off was moved to the weekend before the Brazoria County Fair, not everyone was pleased. Some teams, who had participated in previous cook-offs — some for more than a decade — opted out because of the change.
“I wanted to cook, too, but it’s just not going to be the same,” former head cook Darryl Khoury of The Pit Meisters said. “I think they’re throwing tradition and family values out the window.”
Khoury’s team chose not to participate this year.
Two prevailing ideas have emerged from the fair association’s decision: The change tramples on tradition and that money trumps tradition. And when those two ideas clash, it can leave many unhappy.
But the fair association made the decision based on what organizers said was in the best interest of the fair, which would allow for other activities and attractions to take place in the space occupied by the cook-off during regular fair times.
While the decision didn’t sit well with everyone, on the whole it appears it was the correct option for the community. Unlike what some feared, the ground didn’t open up and reveal the Earth’s molten core below when the cook-off took place a week earlier.
In fact, the date change allowed a new generation of of barbecue cooks to fire up their pits. Participants who had been unable to compete in the past due to being involved with other fair tasks, such as members of the Sweeny FFA program, were able to join in the cook-off while still showing animals during the regular fair days.
An important part of the fair is when aspiring farmers are given the opportunity to show their hard work with animals, machinery and agriculture. Busy with that, many are unable to take part in the process.
One thing to keep in mind after the change is every tradition started by doing something different or breaking away from how something was done in the past. While some are upset about the change, to the young cooks who took part in the competition this year, it might mark the first year of their developing tradition.
For those who choose not to return, that will be the cost of the change for the organizers. The results of next year’s competition will likely decide if the change sticks.